Saving June by Hannah Harrington

“If you really want things to change, you can make them change no matter where you are.” 

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why. 

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California. 

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs. 

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Personal Thoughts:

“There is so much beauty on just existing. In being alive.”

How do you save someone who is already dead?

That’s one of the questions that pop up in my head when I start reading Saving June. I know I shouldn’t be taking it literally, but this road trip to save June has nothing to do with June at all. This is more about Harper Scott, June’s younger sister who took a road trip to California with her best friend, Laney and Jake, a mysterious music-obsessed guy who claims to be June’s friend. A road trip full of adventures, discoveries and unforgetable experiences.

“Sometimes people think they want to know things, but then they hear the answer and realize they’d prefer to be in the dark.”

The writing is accessible and engaging. The descriptions, characters, emotions and events are all believable. Hannah Harrington write with so much ease that the flow of events just leave you wanting for more and turning pages after pages. The grief theme is balance with funny and crazy moments from the characters adventures and constant debate.

The honest and realistic voice of the characters is perfectly delivered. They feel so real that it is impossible not to care and emphatize for them. Harper is such a lost soul. I want to save her from all the suffering she went through before and after her sister’s death.  I completely understood what she meant when she said she hated being compared. She lives her life in June’s shadows as she is always the second best but deep within her is the longing to be accepted. After June’s death her world simply shattered to pieces but instead of picking it up for herself she choose to give her final tribute to June. Her love for June is one of the things that built her strong character.

“I wasn’t interested in being like June, and I definitely didn’t want to live in June’s shadow. Even if mine was less impressive, at least it was my own.”

Harper’s best friend, Laney is simply what Harper needs. She may be shallow sometimes but as a best friend she is a devoted friend to Harper. She understand Harper enough to go with her to this crazy trip. She simply cares with her best friend. She is also broken and lost but she never fail to give a hand to Harper. You’ll feel the genuine care she has for her best friend.

Laney and Harper friendship feels very realistic inspite of how completely opposite they are from each other. Harper is more of a keep-to-yourself person who front a tough and serious attitude, while Laney is loud, adventurous, outgoing and fun. They are totally opposite but they complement each other inspite of their differences. Their friendship gives a nice touch to the story. With Laney you’ll see Harper more than just the grieving sister of June but also as a loving and caring friend.

Jake the mysterious guy, who is like a puzzle that you keep on solving all through out the book. He seems mature for his age and you’ll feel the depth of his character from the start. But he is so mysterious that you want to crack his silence and read through his mind. I love how he manage to break some of Harper’s wall when Harper is so elusive. Those are the parts that gives moments to the story. Jake also has passion in music which somehow reminds me of Adam from If I Stay & Where She Went. Jake’s music provides a glimpse to his unreadable personality.

“…It’s just nice, I guess. Knowing that someone else can put into words what I feel. That there are people who have been through things worse than I have, and they come out on the other side okay. Not only that, but they made some kind of twisted, fucked-up sense of the completely senseless. They made it mean something. These songs tell me I’m not alone. If you look at it at that way, music… music can see you through anything.”

These three distinct individuals are the strength of this book. They provided depth, laugther and sadness to the entire story. Their realistic dialogue and constant battering makes Saving June fun to read. They make this crazy road trip more exciting. They are not perfect but you will love them for who they really are. They are so real that it is easy to feel their sadness and hopes. They make mistakes but they know how to accept their faults and say sorry. You’ll laugh and smiles with them and even ache for them. They are broken souls but strong enough to help each others. You can’t save them but you will go with them in each step they make to explore and experience life because you will simply want to see the happiness they all surely deserve.

Harper’s stand about religion and how she clearly state the she doesn’t believe that there is God is somehow offending but I respect her for taking her stand. Though every time she curse she said the word “God” or “Jesus”. I don’t know how deep her claim is but I believe somehow she believes in higher power.

Music plays a huge part of the story and I love how the author incorporate all the songs through out the story. The creation of playist reminds me of the playlist I made for my best friend few years ago. I recorded seven disks of different songs I personally pick for her. Those seven discs are categorized into different topics of friendship, love, hopes and promises. I’m not sure if she still have it but I hope she do.

The author has included a list of sound tracks at the end of the novel which I searched on you tube after reading. The music simply provides more connections to the story and to the characters.

“He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.”

Saving June is a sensitive and honest story that deals with loss, grief, friendship, love and self-discovery. It is a realistic portrayal of the aftermath of a suicide. A beautiful book that is not meant to provide answers but to remind you that there are so much more after death and loss. That life continues to evolve and is worth living. This is an spectacular debut novel from Hannah Harrington.

This review is based on an e-ARC I received courtesy of the publisher, Harlequin Teen via NetGalley

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3 thoughts on “Saving June by Hannah Harrington

  1. Pingback: Speechless by Hannah Harrington « BLACKPLUME

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